Perpetual punishment of Afrikaners for the sins of their fathers
The thing about human rights is that their exercise often offends somebody. Many politicians, for example, would be happier if the press did not exercise its right to expose their skulduggery.
It is precisely because they can cause offence that rights need constitutional protection, which fortunately our Constitution gives them. Unfortunately, however, attempts by Afrikaners to enforce their rights seem sometimes to have offended some of our judges, among them some who grace the bench of the Constitutional Court.
In July 2016, that court criticised the civil rights group Afriforum for "advancing illegitimate sectarian interests through legal stratagems" by making use of the constitution and the courts. At issue was an attempt by Afriforum to prevent the changing of certain street names in Pretoria. This was held to be an intolerable attempt to perpetuate apartheid.
Now, in a judgement handed down at the end of last year, the court refused Afriforum and the Solidarity trade union leave to appeal against a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal upholding a decision by the University of the Free State to phase out Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. Both Afriforum and the FW de Klerk Foundation have criticised the judgement on this website.
Handed down by the chief justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, on behalf of the majority of eight judges, the judgement accepted at face value a series of claims by the university that the use of Afrikaans "threatens to perpetuate racial discrimination or disharmony". Writing for the minority of three judges, Johan Froneman said that it would have been preferable to allow an appeal so that the university could present evidence to back its claims.